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El Camino Bandido

I began my ride at my friend's ranch near Tombstone, AZ. I brought my Triumph Tiger down to Tombstone loaded on my truck as the snow and cold of Colorado and New Mexico would have made riding the moto both cold and dangerous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mission Hotel

I chose the Hotel Mission, (yes, English spelling) a quiet neat hotel on the right southbound. it was quiet and not busy, I could park the bike in front of my room but I still put the disk brake lock on the bike. Route 15 runs right in front of the hotel on a small hill, ensuring Jake brakes on the big rigs downhill southbound, and low gear loud engine noise uphill on the northbound. There is a very nice little dinner (cena) and breakfast (Desayuno) restaurant across the street, Restaurant Bar Elba. I ate both cena and desayuno there. 
Now... That street is Route 15 it is very busy, if the big rigs don't getcha the little 125cc motos without headlights might. The road is 4 lanes with a lifesaving island between the lanes. But do please look both ways and use caution!
  I rolled south, filled with fuel at a gas station on the south side of town. Route 15 is a toll road, the tolls for the motorcycle varied a bit but were not more than 75 Pesos about $4.32 US. I had Peso coins I brought from home, and since I was unfamiliar with the different coins I had taken a sharpie and written the amount in large red numbers. That made stopping the bike, taking off my gloves, reaching into my jacket pocket, and handing the correct amount to the toll taker, all of whom were friendly, Different than so many in the US who often seem annoyed that they have to interact with you.
It is 313 K (195 miles) Depending on the range of your machine you will want to fuel along the way. I have stopped at the Pemex at the Carbo intersection several times. There is also an Oxxo for food and drink. 95 K from Santa Ana, 220 K from San Carlos. You may want an intermediate gas stop. There is one Pemex on 2 just north of Rancho Arrieros about 150 K from Carbo.  I like that, I am an arriero, a mule packer.
Pay attention to the signs north of Hermosillo, unless you want to ride through Hermosillo make sure you take the bypass, it is a well signed exit on your right, crossing up and over 15. 
Route 15 is a busy road, the main road from Guaymas, San Carlos, and points south to the border at Nogales. 

I had my second demented screwup on 15 south of Carbo. I needed to pee, so I found an area with some shrubs I could use as to not scare the passersby, I pulled off the highway, there was a little bit of a lip, I am not sure what happened, but the bike went over downhill on the embankment, I threw myself clear and somersaulted to my feet. 
The bike is too heavy for me to lift, so I carry a lifesaver, a bike jack from motobikejack.com. I began to remove the bags attached to the panniers to get to the jack. Before I got the bags off, a car pulled over. A fellow got out and offered to help. His very pretty girlfriend watched. Another car stopped and two more guys got out we lifted the bike and all was good. I love Mexico! 
Adrian lived somewhere to the south but spent his summers driving a road grader in the oil fields of North Dakota. On the road again, I rolled south. 
I was riding at 75-80 mph which did not help my fuel mileage. There is a dearth of gas stations between Hermosillo and San Carlos, however just before the road intersection off 15 leading to San Carlos there is a gas station, I stopped, filled up, and headed on into San Carlos, a lovely coastal town, seemingly dominated by Americans and Canadians who have moved to the town. The coast here is one of the most beautiful in the world. Coves and Peninsulas for miles. The main road runs along the coast with businesses, hotels, and restaurants between it and the sea. 
The last time I was here I stayed at the Hotel Tetakawi, a good budget hotel, it does not have secure parking but the parking is hidden from the main street and worked well for me. Tetakawi Peak is the dominant feature of the area, with twin peaks high above the town. You can see the mountain in the background of many shots from Catch 22 and other films that were filmed in the area before it was developed. And if you are wondering, Tetakawi means teats of the goat, which when you see the twin peaks you understand.

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San Carlos and Tetakawi

On this trip, I was to meet Diana, a  friend who retired from Minnesota and moved to San Carlos. I was to telephone her from a store on the main street and she would drive in from her home and guide me back to her home. I had paid for a new sim card for my phone and had requested an international plan from my carrier, Consumer Cellular.  Explaining to them that I would be in Mexico. Well, no dice; no service. I went into the store and tried to explain to the clerk that I would like him to call Diana and explain. He did not understand what I wanted. I left and went up the street to Jax Snaxs a cute little restaurant. I reckoned someone there would understand enough English to help me. I was right. A waitress handed me her phone. I called Diana and she came and found me and I followed her back to her very nice home. She lives in the area called The Ranchitas. A neighborhood of nice homes on really bad roads in serious need of grading. 

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Diana has lived in Mexico for years, she was very welcoming  to me, as were her dogs, Beefy and Layla. I could easily have spent a few more days with her if she wished! But I had a tight schedule. This was Thanksgiving, she had invited me to a potluck dinner at the home of friends. She though had agreed to babysit a neighbor's dog, dinner was earlier than she had thought it would be. She could not make the dinner but lent me her car to drive to the house, a large and pleasant home with a lawn going down to the bay. 40 people I did not know, but I found a table with an empty chair. The folks sitting there were very accommodating and welcoming. The food and company were great, I enjoyed it. We talked about living in San Carlos. It would be a fine place to spend the winter, although it seems the major activities are fishing and drinking. There is a good Norte Americano community there, it would be a fine place to spend the winter.  

The following day Diana and I and the dogs drove to a beach where she ran the dogs. We ran into other friends of hers with dogs, they ran around and we chatted. 

She and I then drove north along the coast to the small fishing village of La Mangas. There are a few simple but great seafood restaurants in the village.

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Returning to her home I loaded the bike and set off. I stopped and the large and well stocked Walmart in Guaymas for a few needed items including snacks and some motor oil.
Route 15 through Guaymas is a busy 4 lane road, as long as you pay attention, there are no worries. The route soon leaves the city and heads out through rural country.
it is a pleasant and scenic drive along 15 although a bit boring on an ADV bike, much more a Harley road!

I stopped for fuel and a snack at a gas station in a small village, surprisingly with exceptionally clean restrooms. I talked with two fellows who were on their little Italika motos picking up beer for the afternoon.  My bike is a bit bigger!

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 I soon came to Navajoa, a pleasant town with a university, lots of young people, and Autozone, Burger King, and McDonald's. I was heading to Alamos, the turn onto Road 13, the road to Alamos looks like any city intersection, watch for the signs make the turn, and head east leaving the city and heading through lovely rural country to Alamos.

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Alamos is a lovely town. The downtown has the old Spanish Colonial Architecture. There are many expats in the town with a good number of excellent hotels and restaurants. Along with a street with food trucks, their food alley. 
Screw up #3 happened in one of the narrow streets with sight lines blocked by buildings. This was not entirely my fault, but I could have avoided it by stopping, creeping out, and looking to my my right.  At a T intersection, I began my turn to the left when a car approached quickly from the right. I instinctively hit my front brake, and with the wheel turned to the left the bike instantly dropped and I rolled off into the street. The car did not stop. As is customary in Mexico, two men immediately came over and we set the bike upright again. This was my worst on road experience in 50 years. I mashed my left wrist but otherwise was not hurt, I did create a cute art deco brake lever.  Without a helmet, I would have banged my head pretty danged hard.

My lodging was an experience, Departamentos TABAN El Barranco, was not a hotel at all, but an apartment building. There was no office, no staff. If my Spanish was better I would have known that Departamentos is an apartment building. I rode down a lane into the parking area and looked around. No evidence of a room for me, however, a man walked out of an apartment and showed me #4 which had a key in the door. I entered and found a spacious room with an attached kitchen which I did not need. It was $56 US for the night. But,,,, no sheets on the bed!

After a shower and a rest, I walked into the area around the Plaza enjoying exploring Alamos. I visited the very nice Hacienda De Los Santos, at $200 US per night it was not in my budget. I was told by someone I chatted with that the enchilada dinner was 50 bucks... A lovely place, for a romantic couple.  

I wandered around, and took more photos:

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Palacio Gobierno (City Hall

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Plaza with cute children

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Iglesia

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Plaza 

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Hotel Hacienda del Sol

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I I left the ranch and rode to Naco, AZ through the historic mining town of Bisbee. 
At Naco, I crossed into Mexico and was waved into the inspection station. The Mexican border guards asked me what I was carrying, with my limited Spanish I could say, "ropas", Clothes in English. I would have said 'tools' if I knew the word 'herramientas", but, they were satisfied with ropas and let me go on. 
Here I goofed badly. Entirely my dementia. I had printed out my FMM, the required immigration form. I, not using critical reasoning thought that was sufficient. In my previous trips I had done the same thing, and gotten away with it, this time I also needed the TIP the temporary vehicle importation permit, from Naco you have to go to Cananea to the Banjercito to get that, and therein lies the tale. Riding through Naco Mexico is easy, the road heads straight south, riding a moto through the crowded town requires paying attention but is not like Mexicali where you have to wander around to get out of town, In Naco, Mex. there are two cambios, one on the right and one on the left near the Pemex station. 
I usually carry no more than fifty dollars or roughly 850 pesos,  using my debit card for most purchases. 
The ride south to Highway 2 is a pleasant rural ride, I turned right onto Highway 2 and rode to Cananea. 2 runs through an attractive countryside, you can see why Sonora is known for cattle ranching. Cananea is really two towns. A more modern town to the north and the crowded hilly mining town to the south, there is a very large open pit mine at the south end of town.
I had directions to the Banjercito, but even with the directions it is hard to find. Ride around the large traffic circle to the road heading east at the kindergarten. The Banjercito is in the same building and has a small sign. I was lucky the clerk saw me passing slowly he was out on the driveway and waved me in.  The clerk was friendly and courteous, I gave him my documents including the FMM, he looked at it and asked me if I had paid for it. 

I said, "No", and he told me I had to go back to Naco to immigration and pay for it.. I, a bit stunned asked if there was another way, Knowing that protestation, foot stamping, or rudeness would not get me anything, I refuse to be a rude ugly American, I smiled and left and rode the 60K  back to Naco.  So off I went, 60K back to immigration, the officer there was a very pleasant woman, we chatted about Mexico and her interest in visiting the US. I Then rode back the 60K to Cananea and got my TIP. The Banjercito takes a deposit, for me, it was about 450 dollars, the amount will differ based on the current exchange rate. When you leave Mexico you must go to the Banjercito at the exit port, you will then get your deposit returned. It is annoying but easy. Use your credit or debit card, the money is returned to it after your departure. 

The extra time I used meant I was not going to get to San Carlos that day. 

When I left the Banjercito I was not sure of my route west to Highway 15. I took what appeared to be a major 4-lane street south which took me into the mining town area, interesting, and hilly, but maybe not the place for a gringo to be wandering around alone on a moto, I returned to the traffic circle and picked up Highway 2 at the west exit. Highway 2 is a scenic winding road through the mountains, but, it has heavy truck traffic. It is a narrow winding road crammed with trucks, use caution.

2 intersects with 15 at the town of Imuris 80 K from Cananea. Once on 15, I rode south 45K to Santa Ana, Route 2 intersects westward here, it is a busy town. There are several decent hotels on the south side of town

Colonnaded buildings

Hotel La Charisma

I saw a restaurant across the street from the Palacio Gobierno, La Charisma, and went in. I went to the bar where I heard a couple speaking English, I struck up a conversation with them. They lived in Alamos, the owner of the restaurant and connected hotel  La Mansion was also at the bar. I had a fine evening chatting with them. Several of their friends came by and joined the conversation. In conversation, the cartel influence came up in a roundabout way. It was suggested to me that I never ask anyone what line of work they are in.  That seemed reasonable. Yes the Cartels exist, but they are not interested in Norte Americano tourists who are not poking around asking questions.    At the bar at La Charisima, I had coconut shrimp for supper well prepared and tasty, and a couple of beers. I don't remember the price but it was reasonable. The hotel La Mansion rates are under $80 US, I would probably stay there if I went back Muy romántica!

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I left Alamos at 8 o’clock the following morning, I had a filling and tasty breakfast at the very nice Restaurante Mexico Lindo, I recommend it. Be sure to fuel before you leave Alamos, it is a long way to the next gas. 
Of course, this route can be done solo, I did it. However, I think you will have a better trip with companions. It is very isolated, a breakdown or other issue, crash? Would be a lonely unpleasant experience. 

​​​​​​​I had a fine ride through the country toodling along slowly, as the road began climbing into hilly country. There are small villages and intersections through the lowlands. A nav system will pay for itself here. I did miss one right turn but soon saw my mistake. I created a route map for the Barrancas Del Cobre on Alltrails on my computer at home and uploaded it to my phone. That was priceless. This is no country to get lost and wander around in.. both a lonely country and Cartel country.
The road to the top of the ridge is extremely steep and extremely rocky, highly technical, a serious workout, I dropped the bike on a tight switchback in slick deep silt. Within 10 minutes a truck came by, two men jumped out and helped me right the bike. I love Mexico!  ANOTHER WARNING, I DO NOT ADVISE RIDING CHINiPAS TO ALAMOS, IT IS ALL STEEP DOWNHILL YOU WILL BE ON YOUR BRAKES MOST OF THE TIME. NOT FUN!

Alamos to Chinipas

Each time I dumped the bike, Men in trucks appeared before I even got my motobikejack put together and helped me lift the bike, I love Mexico! 
Large dump trucks use this road, hauling rock from the mine. The road is scarcely wide enough for them, so use caution and don't shade any left bends in the road! 

There is a tiny little village high in the hills that has a Tecate sign at a  rustic tienda.  I did not stop there but kept going as some Mexican dirt bikers I met along the way said that Chinipas was a good place for Desayuno, which turned out to be 4 1/2 hours later riding at an average speed of 16 miles an hour!  A slow road! 

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Chinipas lies along the river four thousand  below

I saw Chinipas De Almada at the bottom of a large canyon along a broad river while I was several thousand feet above the town. Be sure your ABS is turned off! Mexican back roads are steep!  You will want to read God's Middle Finger by Richard Grant, he calls this road The Bandit Road!.
 Before I could get into town I had to cross a river at a ford, the river was about 50 yards wide and  a foot and a half to 2 feet deep.  Getting the bike across the Rio was a major effort, the bottom was all rounded boulders up to cantaloupe and bowling ball size, and there was no decent traction possible with the mossy rounded boulders. I couldn't ride the bike at all. 
My major effort was in keeping the bike upright knowing that I would be thoroughly screwed if it went over. 
I would brace my legs slipping the clutch and spinning the rear wheel as I shoved the bike forward.  It took what seemed forever, and I was in half a panic over the possibility of dropping the bike into the river. This was the second worst event of the entire ride, I will explain the worst event a bit later... A vaquero on horseback on the farside watched me. I must have looked like an alien invader stuck in his river.

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I eventually made it across the river and into town. The clutch was slipping so badly the bike would not ascend any incline. I figured it was wet, but even taking a break did not help. I thought of Itchy Boots completely ruining her clutch on a muddy road in Africa. I feared I had done so, but I finally sat down with my tools and tightened the clutch cable, and had no problem with the clutch after that. 
Chinipas is a cute little town. There were a couple of guys barbecuing chickens on the main street. I was too stressed to enjoy the town. . After the rio crossing and the clutch slipping, I was a bit overwrought. A  fellow I talked to told me there was a puente upstream. I did not see it, I did not see a road to it. If it exists, TAKE IT!
It is a curious town, from the West 4.5 hours and 80 K from pavement. To the East, 100 K, and 7 hours to the pavement near Coruyvo. One of the most isolated towns ever.. yet there are stores and all the streets are paved. There was one very large home that would not have been out of place in Beverly Hills. mmm, who could live in it?  I did not ask.
Be careful in trusting your nav system, mine wanted to send me up a poor dirt road. Another couple that had ridden it, Michael and Gina Greer stated their nav system also was not accurate in the town. 
 There is a large mine just east of town, Mina Palmarejo the primary reason for the town I reckon. Watch your road in passing it or you will drop into the mine property,  Again watch for large trucks lumbering down the poorly maintained road.
 After leaving Chinipas the road still a poor unimproved road rose steeply out of the canyon and eastward across ridges to Temoris , 51K and 3 hours away.
Temoris is a fine little village still many miles from pavement. There is a nice hotel, Hacienda San Pablo, and a few restaurants.

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Hacienda San Pablo

My stay at Hacienda San Pablo was very pleasant, I had a nice room for $33 a night. It was very clean, with a nice garden and a large aviary with six parrots and three peacocks. I parked my bike outside my room, the parking area was well off the street and was secure. I had dinner two nights at "Tacos Mariscos Charly"  and one night a Tbone steak dinner at restaurante Super PH as my celebration for escaping the mud (to follow)

The best  restaurant is probably Super PH, upstairs in a building just up the street from the hotel. I ate two suppers at a small restaurant, built of tarps wrapped on a wood frame. The woman cooking cooked on a gas grill and boiled corn in a pot on a woodstove. It was cool outside, at 3400 feet the town is in the Sierra Tarahumara well above the palms of the coastal belt. The Sierra Tarahumara does not fit the stereotype of a Mexican landscape, nor does it resemble the landscape around Durango where so many Westerns were filmed.  The following is a quote describing the area; 

 

"The Sierra Tarahumara Occidental region contains some twenty-three different species of pine and two hundred different species of oak trees. The alpine climate of the mountainous regions of Copper Canyon has moderate temperatures from October to November and March to April. The bottom of the canyons is humid and warm and remains that way throughout the year. During the warmest months, April through June, drought is a chronic problem with little rainfall until July when the rainy season begins."

On my second day in Temoris, I rode down to Estacion de Temoris, the train station for Temoris with a small village. The road down dropped several thousand feet, it is a lovely scenic ride to the bottom of the canyon. A normal ungraded road. I was fortunate as while I was there both the Westbound and Eastbound El Chepe trains came through, they pass each other at the station. There is local passenger service, and people with their luggage and parcels both got on and off the two trains. Cars and trucks were waiting to pick up the passengers. I took photos and videos.

I spent the rest of the day back in Temoris, that night it rained, as I mentioned, the rain was not predicted in any of my weather apps.  It had not rained much and I figured the road would be passable for me just wet with a bit of mud. 

A warning!! from Temoris to Creel is pretty much impossible on a motorcycle after rain, if you are in Temoris heading east, or Creel heading west and it has rained, wait for the road to dry! Of course, while I was there, it was pouring rain and all my weather apps said it was cloudy with no precipitation. Good Luck!
There are two Pemex stations in Temoris, one which seemed to serve trucks at the north end of the village, the other up on the main road. Be sure to fill up. 
The ride was a lovely tour through a region of small farms and ranches. There was one concrete river ford. I found the hard way that eastbound on the right side there is a deep hole... I bounced and sprayed through it!
10 miles from town I went down a gentle slope to a right-hand turn in the shade, and down I went as if I was on ice. There was an inch of wet slick silt mud over dry dirt. I had my rain suit on which was fortunate as I rolled and somersaulted through the mud. A truck came through, two guys jumped out and helped me get the bike up, and they left with friendly waves. I love Mexico!

I rode carefully through the mud scarcely able to keep the bike upright even though I was dog paddling it. After 100 meters of this, I began to wonder how far the mud would be. I parked the bike using the square mud pad I carry to keep it from going over and walked up the road a half mile or so, with the same mud problem. 

I hate to backtrack! But, discretion is the better part of valor. I decided to return to Temoris. Carefully working to turn the bike around, down she went again this time snapping the front brake lever to a two inch stub. And again a truck stopped. a newer truck with an electric company logo on the side.  5 men got out and helped me to right her. They could see that the mud was a serious issue. They helped me. two on each side to keep the bike upright, me in the saddle dog paddling, and one in the back pushing. Enough mud packed between the front wheel and fender to pop the fender right off the bike. I rode the rest of my trip without a front fender. We moved the bike 100 meters to a rocky stretch of road. I would have been thoroughly screwed without their help.
I knew that they would refuse money, but I felt it was polite to offer, I held out 500 pesos, but they refused it saying we were "Amigos" I said, "por Tecate". They smiled and refused and followed me clear back to Temoris to make sure I made it. 
It stopped raining and the sun came out a good portent for tomorrow. I love Mexico!
I rolled back to Hacienda San Pablo and asked for another room for the night. They saw the bike coated in mud, me coated in mud, my boots covered in mud, smiling they gave me my room back. My rain suit and boots stayed outside! I apologized for the barro (mud) they said,, "not a problem".
My riding suit was a bit muddy, so I hung it outside to dry, I took a hot shower, and a long nap. 

​​​​This was the hardest and most serious event of the ride. I was pleased and very happy that the bike was not broken other than the front brake lever and front fender. Although a new fender will be over $200 to replace.
After my nap, I walked the town. I took several photos including the church, graveyard, and to my surprise in this isolated village, a Montessori school across the street from the public school.
To celebrate my getting out of the mud, I had a T bone steak dinner. 15 bucks US, Mexican beef is really good.,

Chinapas to Temoris

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Oops!

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Great steps up the hill, Chinipas!

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Sierra Madre

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Pine forest at 7,000 feet

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Temoris to Creel

The adventure park is very developed and has a plethora of things to do and see.. An aerial gondola that goes out to a spur ridge a mile and a half away, a long zip line, hiking trails, a music and performance venue, and more. https://parquebarrancas.com
 I flew the drone over the canyon and around the park a bit after the obligatory photos and filming of the canyon which is truly magnificent. There was a strong wind so I was cautious.
The Barrancas are four times the size of the Grand Canyon and the deepest part is 7000 feet deep  
Drone footage of the Canyon bottom and the Barrancas Del Cobre Adventure Park area.

 I left Temoris the following morning praying that the road had dried sufficiently so that I could stay up. It had. The nightmare on the hairpin turn from yesterday had firmed up nicely. There were a couple of stream crossings with slick mud.  My tires are 50/50 Street and dirt they are not good tires for muddy conditions.  I danced the bike a couple of times!  I toodled through very scenic mountain country through some very small villages. The poverty in some of the areas is a bit upsetting, although pretty much everyone has a satellite dish on the roof.
I stopped in the village of San Rafael for a break, fuel, a snack, and a Coke. A young man came up to me and began talking to me so quietly that I had a hard time hearing him. He said his sister lives in Montrose and he had visited her there. Montrose is just down the road from my ranch. How odd, to find someone deep in Mexico who had been near my home.
Thank God I  got to the pavement 40 km from Temoris a fairly new road in good shape, I was darned happy. I rode to the Barrancas De Cobre Adventure Park. 10 pesos to drive in. I parked and walked past the tourist tchotchke. Kiosks. They are staffed by Tarahumara women. They are so cute in their brightly colored long print skirts. Very different from the Mexican girls who wear super tight pants whenever possible and whether or not they have the figure for them!

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The tourist part of Creel is one street lined with restaurants, hotels, and shops, selling mostly Tarahumara touristy tchotchke. It reminded me of Interlaken, Zermatt, and Colorado mountain towns. The same mix of hotels, curio shops, guide shops with mountain bike and ATV rentals and restaurants,

 

In the past five days, I had seen one adventure motorcyclist and that was just the day before.  A BMW pulled into the hotel, I talked to the rider in the morning as he was packing to ride down to Batopilas. He was a Mexican from Cabo San Lucas. Clearly, he had money, but, I remembering the advice given to me in Alamos refrained from asking him his line of work. 

In the town of Creel, I had expected to see Americans, passengers on El Chepe, and adventure travelers. I was surprised, I saw one American family and two American women shopping.

I only took one photo on Creel, the restaruant I had supper in. The very good Restaurante La Cabaña 

In the morning there was frost on my bike cover. I put on all the clothing I had including my rain suit which is a great wind block.

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The following morning it was cold, I was impatient to get on the road, I left Creel at 8:00 AM the temperature was in the 30s in Mexico !! 
I planned to fuel and eat in San Juanico 32K away. My ride was cold but very interesting. Pine forests. I passed small log cabins, men on horseback, and horse drawn carts hauling firewood. I could have been in rural America 150 years ago. 
 It was cold in the 30s, but  I was dressed warmly. The route is twisty through miles of Pine lovely pine forest looking much like the landscape around Flagstaff. I came into the town of San Juanito and fueled, as I pulled out of the Circle K gas station I was attacked by a pack of dogs. One snagged my pant leg and tore a small hole but fortunately missed my leg.  I had no interest in dealing with possible rabies!! 

I had to accelerate out of the parking lot to the road, and had to dodge a bus that was trying to pull in it forced me to accelerate south, onto the main road. A block down the road I turned around and headed north. San Juanico is a working town, I saw nothing of interest to the tourist. I did not see a restaurant I liked. The landscape north of town is lovely. . Little log cabins dotted the countryside. It looks like the locals make their living by cutting firewood and logs. The landscape is unique. It doesn’t really resemble anything in the US except perhaps the jeffery pine forests of the Sierra Nevada and ponderosa forests of the Mogollon Rim of Arizona. It is a lovely forest countryside. 
No breakfast yet... very sad.
I rode 150 K to Cauhtémoc Chihuahua. A large town, my track did not take me through town but headed north on the west side. I fueled and looked for lunch. Golly a KFC... I  turned in and parked. I walked in and could have been at home. The restaurant was full of American farmer looking men with the  women in the unique clothing of the Mennonites. I had heard there was a colony of Mennonites around Cahutémoc. It looked like they all came into town for KFC. They were clearly prosperous, new large American pickups in the parking lot.  I happily ate my chicken & biscuits and mashed potatoes and headed back out. 

We all too commonly think of Mexico as poor and behind the times, but for ten miles along the road leading out of town were large farm equipment dealers, John Deere, Kubota, Cat, with all the latest 8 wheeled tractors, combines, and other equipment, along with the same agriculture supply shops to be found in any farming area in the US.  The area is a vast farming area. It was easy to tell the Mennonite homes and farms. The homes and ranch yards could be in any farm in the US. 
I rolled north on a busy two lane road toward Nuevos Casas Grandes 300 K away. I reached the town, fueled, and drove the short distance to the community of Paquime. Where the Mogollon culture ruins of Paquime are.  This was a city roughly concurrent with the Anasazi to the north. 
Archaeological Zone of Paquimé, Casas Grandes

I had found an interesting looking hotel near the ruins on Google Maps before I left home. Built in the old Adobe style, The Pueblo Del Sol, I reckoned to stay at it. I took the dirt road separating the town from the ruins property and saw a cute adobe hotel, I turned into the interior courtyard, the hotel was very cute and authentic looking. The owner came out to check me in. She said the hotel was built in the Paquime adobe style. She showed me to my room #4. the fourth room 4 I was in for the past 4 days, how odd is that!?
The room, built in the old style did not have a window, the door was small, but the room was very nice. She told me I would sleep well. It wasn't until she gave me the internet password that I realized I was not in Pueblo Del Sol, but in the Hotel Guayamacas.  Duh...  But I was happy I had my room, my bike was parked safely in the courtyard just outside my door.

Hotel Guayamacas

I rode to the Restaurant La Finca De Don Cruz, which seemed to be the only restaurant in town that was open. It was a large restaurant but I was the only customer. I guess the tourist season was over.

The next morning I packed and left riding the half mile to the parking lot of the archeological site. I got there just after it opened at 9:00 AM. There is a small entrance fee, at the desk in the museum. There was one other person, a man, in the museum. The museum is a fine exhibition of what has been found at Paquime.

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These are Metates, cut with stone tools!!

It was a cool first of December, with a stiff cold wind out of the west. I worried about my ride to Tombstone later in the day.
I left the museum and began the tour of the ruins. 
 I  had the place to myself there was no one else except two men putting new adobe on the ruined walls, using trowels scooping the mix as if it was concrete, which it might have been. Better at lasting than mud. I talked briefly with them and commented on the cold. They told me it might snow that evening!
It is estimated that at Paquime's height, there were about 2,000 rooms, housing, workshops, and stores with patios. The rooms had running water, distributed by small covered acequias. The water was brought down from the mountains in large acequias.  At its height, there were over 1700 rooms in the large structures over stories tall. The largest building was the largest adobe building in North America and was 7 stories tall.

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Overall the ruins area is small, I spent an hour in the Museum and another hour in the ruins.

As I was leaving I saw that two school buses had pulled in and disgorged a horde of teenagers..  I was impressed that the school thought it important to bring the kids to their cultural heritage, but I was also happy to be leaving before being swamped by the horde. 

I fueled and headed north on Route 10. It was 231 K or 144 miles to the border at Agua Prieta. I put on all my togs and my rain suit because of the cold and wind. 

As I was leaving I saw that two school buses had pulled in and disgorged a horde of teenagers..  I was impressed that the school thought it important to bring the kids to their cultural heritage, but I was also happy to be leaving before being swamped by the horde. 

I fueled and headed north on Route 10. It was 231 K or 144 miles to the border at Agua Prieta. I put on all my togs and my rain suit because of the cold and wind. 

Just west of Janos, I ran into the first military checkpoint I had seen on the trip. They waved me through, figuring some Americano on a moto was not going to be carrying contraband.

Highway 2 is not a pleasant road. It is narrow two lanes, it hardly seems possible that big rigs can pass each other, That cold west wind was now in my face. 

While much of it is flat and straight running across the great Chihuahua desert, it crosses a mountain range at the Chihuahua Sonora border. A slow twisty road. Getting past the big rigs moving at 20-30 MPH was tricky as the Eastbound traffic was heavy. 

On a pleasant windless sunny day riding through the mountain would be interesting, on this rainy, windy cold day however it was purgatory. The road over the next range veered between narrow pavement, wide pavement, and rough pavement with a few dirt sections. Again full of truck traffic.

I was burning fuel at a high rate due to the headwind. 

At 133 miles from Nuevos Casas Grande my low fuel light went on. Normally it does not go on until about 200 miles.  I slowed to 55 and prayed for a gas station, but none appeared. I came to another army checkpoint about 5 km from the east edge of Agua Prieta. Again, waved through. Just beyond the checkpoint, there was a tire shop. I thought if they had gas I would buy a couple liters to get me through to a gas station. I asked, and a man said there was a Pemex 3 kilometers further. I prayed and rolled on and into the Pemex. I filled the tank, I filled the tank, I don't know how low I was, as I gave all the pesos I had left to the attendant knowing I could fuel again in Arizona. Agua Prieta (which incidentally translates to brown water) was a prosperous town with car dealerships along the street I used. 

I pulled into the Banjercito parking lot and returned my TIP without issue. To get to the border crossing, I turned left out of the gate and went to the cross street. There is an alley just cattycorner to the left from the stop sign. I rode to it and right up to the border Customs booth. No issues, the young agent was curious about my trip. He was very friendly and courteous. I rode on through to a Carls Jr and that was my Mexico trip!

 

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My mud bike heading for home

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